Operator fails in complaint

The Commerce Commission has rejected a complaint from a Dunedin tourism operator who alleged bias by the Dunedin City Council's i-Site staff.

The decision was conveyed to i-Site staff yesterday and confirmed in a statement released by the Dunedin City Council late yesterday afternoon.

Council i-Site manager Louise Van de Vlierd said she was ''delighted and relieved'' the commission had concluded the visitor centre operated fairly and with robust processes.

The complaint was lodged late last year but confirmed only last month, when the operator, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed i-Site staff taking cruise ship passengers' bookings were running a monopoly and favouring some businesses over others.

The complaint came after Port Otago banned individual tour operators from hawking at Port Chalmers, for security reasons and following complaints about unprofessional conduct.

Dunedin i-Site staff instead operated a marquee on the wharf, taking bookings on behalf of tour operators, but the complaint alleged i-Site staff were charging different operators different commissions.

Ms Van de Vlierd said two long-standing tourism operators were on older contracts and were charged a 10% commission for each booking, while other operators - on newer contracts - were charged 12.5%.

The older contracts were due to expire within two years, but Ms Van de Vlierd would be contacting the companies involved to discuss lifting the rate earlier, she said.

The Commerce Commission had identified the contractual ''discrepancy'' but found ''no apparent breaches of the Commerce Commission Act regarding allegations of anti-competitive conduct had occurred'', the statement said.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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